The Namibia Media Professionals Union (Nampu) has issued a petition calling for immediate interventions to address the issue of non-performing and sometimes hostile spokespersons in various government offices, ministries and agencies.
The petition, directed to the executive director of the information ministry, Audrin Mathe, highlighted the growing concern within Namibia’s media landscape.
Nampu’s acting secretary general, Jemima Beukes, voiced concern at a recent trend where some spokespersons in the government appear to be diverting the flow of information away from traditional channels and onto social media platforms, particularly Facebook.
“This leaves journalists in a precarious position, as they are unsure whether there has been a change in government policy that dictates they should no longer engage with public relations officers, but instead rely solely on social media for official updates,” Beukes said.
Beukes said some spokespersons have demonstrated an increasingly arrogant attitude, blatantly ignoring or refusing to provide essential information to journalists and media organisations.
“This shift is particularly troubling, as it not only hinders journalists’ access to vital information but also raises serious questions about transparency and accountability within government,” Beukes said.
The petition highlighted that journalists have reported instances where they have been interrogated about their motives for seeking information and encountered resistance when attempting to access data through established communication channels.
The petition from Nampu specifically identifies several spokespersons across various ministries and government agencies who have been implicated in this issue.
The petition calls on the government to establish and distribute comprehensive guidelines outlining the expected conduct of spokespersons, which include provisions for accountability.
Furthermore, Nampu is advocating for the creation of an independent oversight body or mechanism with the authority to investigate such complaints and recommend appropriate actions to the ministry of information.
Mathe has acknowledged receipt of the petition.